Instrument of God

The readings today mention arguing, threats, and persecution. Those same readings emphasise faith, trust, baptism, learning, resurrection and Eucharist. 

“Why are you persecuting me,” is a much too common phrase in numerous situations right here in the USA and globally. Each and everyone who suffers is a beloved son or daughter of God.

Too frequently in the world, we hear the sentiment expressed by Ananias about Saul doing evil things to His holy ones. Ananias listens to the directions of the Lord. As a chosen instrument of God, Ananias heals Saul. He baptizes him and instructs him in The Way. Paul then goes out to teach and tell the world the Good News of our Risen Lord, Jesus Christ.

I am a chosen instrument of God. I have not always accepted the invitation to receive Jesus’ love and mercy as Saul did. I have had to look at my actions and reactions to life and learn to let go of past actions, hurts, and injuries. I’ve had to explore what I’ve done and what I’ve failed to do which keeps me off the path that leads me to right relationship with God, my fellow man, and all of creation.

This is not a one-and-done process, a checklist, or an examination either. I’m human and make mistakes numerous times throughout the day in judgment, verbal and nonverbal responses to what is going on around me. I need to take time to reflect and notice how scales or blinders on my own eyes have held me back from being a better instrument of the Lord.

During this Easter season rejoice in knowing that you are God’s beloved instrument, wherever you are on your journey in life.

Contact the author

Beth Price is part of the customer care team at Diocesan. She brings a unique depth of experience to the group due to her time spent in education, parish ministries, sales and the service industry over the last 25 yrs. She is a practicing spiritual director as well as a Secular Franciscan (OFS). Beth is quick to offer a laugh, a prayer or smile to all she comes in contact with. Reach her here

Feature Image Credit: Marscella Ling,

Nourished By the Bread of Life

How ironic, I am writing this reflection on the Bread of Life—the Bread that comes down from heaven, the Living Bread, and Flesh for the World—in Adoration with my belly rumbling from hunger. Although all I have to look forward to satisfying that hunger with is a gluten, dairy-free meal replacement bar, I sit eagerly awaiting my first opportunity to eat it. Even a little excited at the coming relief, knowing I will not have to suffer from these hunger pangs much longer. Anxious for this hunger to be taken away, clearly anything would suit me if I’m excited for my less than tasty meal replacement bar. I might even eat liver if that were my only option.

In John 6, also referred to as the Bread of Life Discourse, the Lord begins to reveal to us the beauty and mystery of His giving of Himself in the Eucharist. The words that come to mind as I meditate on John 6:44-51, may be brought on by my hunger, are those from the Lord’s prayer, “give to us our daily bread.” Acutely aware of God’s goodness, that He who created me would not only take care of my spiritual needs but my temporal as well. Daily, no day left, in which He does not think or desire to provide for me. And bread makes perfect sense, as it is a food we, even us gluten intolerant people like myself, find a way to incorporate into our diets. As the Catholic Church’s Catechism (2830) states, “The Father who gives us life cannot but give us the nourishment life requires—all appropriate goods and blessings, both material and spiritual.”

It is incredible how impatient I can be when hunger overtakes me, unwilling to postpone satisfaction until something more substantive comes along. Willing to settle for imitation food instead of holding out for the real thing, even if that meant I’d have to deal with my grumbly tummy and suffer a little longer. I do this in my spiritual life as well, when I become hungry for something to quelch my discomfort, willing to accept false gods of food, entertainment, or drink. Instead of trusting in the fulfillment of the One who truly satisfies. The scraps instead of the feast. The Bread of Life gives me abundant life and the hope of eternal life, though I may need to suffer and, yes, even hunger. 

Here I sit before the True Food, in the presence of the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of my Lord, Jesus Christ, yet I am distracted by hunger. How many things in the world around me distract my attention from Jesus, with empty promises to pacify my discontent. However, for most, the consolation will have faded before the consumption has even been completed. My challenge is to remain eternity-minded, to look up and out for nourishment, knowing He who created me will never abandon nor forsake me and will always provide everything, material and spiritual, that I need.  

Contact the author

Allison Gingras works for WINE: Women In the New Evangelization as National WINE Steward of the Virtual Vineyard. She is a Social Media Consultant for the Diocese of Fall River and She is a writer, speaker, and podcaster, who founded and developed the Stay Connected Journals for Catholic Women (OSV).   

Feature Image Credit: 11165576,


“I’m hungry Mama,” complains Rolly, the little Dalmatian puppy in the classic 101 Dalmatians film. How often, as a mother of 6, do I hear these words every day. Someone is always hungry. Even as I write this, I’ve fed one child and fully expect to be asked if it’s snack time within the next fifteen minutes by at least two others. Just at lunch today, my 6 year old proudly pronounced, “I’m always hungry, unless I’ve just eaten.”

In the Gospel today, Jesus tells His listeners that He can provide such food so as to make the eater never hungry again. For those who live with relative food security, this may sound like a nice promise but perhaps won’t be moved by its shocking assertion. For anyone who knows, or is currently living in a situation where food is scarce, this statement would stop them in their tracks, as it did the listeners of Jesus. These were people for whom food was not a guarantee. Depending on one’s job there were relative levels of security, a Pharisee for example, would not be as concerned about his meals as a fisherman. 

Recall who Jesus typically taught. These were the poor, the socially low, the forgotten and the everyday ordinary. How their ears would have perked up, their attention focused, to hear Jesus’ claim that if they come to Him He will make it so they are never hungry again. 

Today we know that Jesus is speaking of a deeper hunger than physical. We all hunger to be loved, to be accepted, to be safe. We act and make decisions based on these hungers. Often we try to satisfy them with things of the world, but we always find ourselves hungry again. In speaking this way, Jesus is drawing upon the common experience of hunger and asking His new followers to look deeper within themselves. 

We all share a common physical hunger for food, Jesus does not diminish this need. But He has come to satisfy our common hunger for God’s presence in our lives. Every human, from before Jesus’ time to this present moment, has a hunger for God’s presence. Unfortunately, this hunger gets twisted inside of us due to sin. And it is fitting that Jesus offers living bread as the remedy. By eating the fruit in the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve brought Original Sin to themselves and their children. Now, today and everyday, Jesus offers bread which will transform us and satisfy us. 

Contact the author

Kate Taliaferro is an Air Force wife and mother. She is blessed to be able to homeschool, bake bread and fold endless piles of laundry. When not planning a school day, writing a blog post or cooking pasta, Kate can be found curled up with a book or working with some kind of fiber craft. Kate blogs at

Feature Image Credit: joshuasy,

Jesus is the Bread of Life

A while back, I went through a faith reversion and I was participating in a small faith sharing group. One morning I told the group I had felt empty when I went to a non-Catholic church for a wedding. I couldn’t identify why. The people were full of genuine love for Jesus and there was beautiful music, but I walked away feeling a strong desire to rush to my home parish. I realized that at any Catholic church I had ever been to I felt a sense of something. I couldn’t find the word but my fellow group members knew what I meant.  

One of them, clearly wiser than me, said in a gentle voice, “It’s Jesus.  He is there in the tabernacle.” Even though I am a lifelong practicing Catholic who believes in Jesus Christ’s Real Presence, it took that “ohhh” moment to make me realize I also know it’s his Real Presence. I felt it in my head and my heart and recognized it for the gift it is.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus clearly tells us that he is the bread of life and if we come to him and believe in him we will never hunger or thirst. This passage is the beginning of the Bread of Life discourse in John where Jesus tells his followers that they need to eat his flesh and drink his blood to have eternal life. He tees up the institution of the Eucharist that we read about at the Last Supper on Holy Thursday. He doesn’t back down from this teaching. The disciples comment that this is a hard teaching and they aren’t wrong. It is a hard teaching. When some followers left, Jesus didn’t run after them and clarify. He didn’t recant and say he meant we need to eat a symbol of his body. He let them leave. 

A survey by Pew Research found that 63% of Catholics do not believe that during Mass the bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ (transubstantiation). That’s how hard this teaching is. Yet that leaves 37% of Catholics who do believe in it. I feel blessed to confess this truth. I feel blessed to be able to go to Mass and receive Jesus in this concrete way. This reality is so powerful that at Holy Thursday Mass, our pastor teared up during the Consecration and I suspect I wasn’t the only one who, when hearing his voice crack and witnessing him wiping his eyes, felt moved to my core with gratitude. My own tears came a few minutes later when one of our seminarians gave Holy Communion to his sister. I was so overcome with happiness to be back in church for the Triduum, to be able to receive this gift of himself that Jesus gave us.

Jesus is the bread of life. It’s a hard teaching but it’s an important one. Jesus didn’t mince words with this one. He said he is the bread of life and we need to eat his body and drink his blood. We are blessed to live in a place where we can do that freely. 

Contact the author

Merridith Frediani’s perfect day includes prayer, writing, unrushed morning coffee, reading, tending to dahlias, and playing Sheepshead with her husband and three kids.  She loves finding God in the silly and ordinary.  She writes for Ascension Press, Catholic Mom, and her local Catholic Herald in Milwaukee. Her first book Draw Close to Jesus: A Woman’s Guide to Eucharistic Adoration is expected to be released summer 2021. You can reach her at

Feature Image Credit: idenir,

The Work of God

“This is the work of God, that you believe in the one he sent.” John 6:29b

I have spent many years working in different professions. I’ve worked in secular professions and in faith-based professions. Each job title on my resume shows a step forward, a bit of a better professional position, more education. And for what purpose? Like most of us, I work to earn money to support my family and take care of our needs. For many years, it was only needs that were met and that was fine. It all worked out in the end.

But really, what is our work here on earth? To love God and as Jesus says to “believe in the one he sent.” On my desk is a St. Ignatius Loyola prayer card that says, “Man is created to praise, reverence and serve God our Lord and in this way save his soul.” We tend to make things complicated. Or maybe that’s me, not you? I wonder, “Am I doing God’s will? What is God’s will?” 

Jesus tells us so simply, believe in who God sent. Who did God send? Jesus! Believe in him and then, put first things first. Praise God. Give him reverence. Serve him in your daily life. When God is first, life has a way of being in the right order. 

In all of John chapter 6 the people are looking for signs and wonders, desiring to follow Jesus because he is new and exciting. When he tells them the hard truths, many leave. They decide to work for what satisfies their human desires. Those desires have tripped me many times and I still need to be on guard to not compare myself, not be envious, to stop thinking more is better. What does Jesus offer? True food, deep satisfaction, wholeness. When you and I believe in the one God sent and follow him, we are doing the work and will of the Father. 

The work we need to do to provide for ourselves, our families and others will come and through it we can bless others with the benefits we receive. Without believing first though, our work will not bring us lasting fulfillment. Only praising, reverencing and serving God and believing in Jesus gives us lasting fulfillment. As Jesus said, “Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life.” (John 6:27a)

Contact the author

Deanna G. Bartalini, MEd, MPS, is a Catholic educator, writer, speaker, and retreat leader. She has served in ministry for over 40 years as a catechist, religious education director, youth minister, liturgical coordinator, stewardship director and Unbound prayer minister. For all of Deanna’s current work go to 

Feature Image Credit: pixel2013,

Take your troubles to the Risen One

A long year has sputtered out during the holy season of Lent. Conflicting messages about the end or the resurgence of the pandemic… Life-changes and unexpected transitions… Worries over my parents’ health…

I have found myself feeling exhausted, listless, desolate. 

This Easter, Jesus has come and stood in my immediate presence and I have stood in his.

“Peace be with you,” Jesus has whispered to me, proclaimed to me.

“I have been here all along. I rose from the dead. I live, the Risen One. Why are you troubled about the events in your life? Why do you wonder if I am here? If I can do anything?”

What troubles us…what troubles you…these 2000 years since Jesus burst the bars of death? Why does Jesus have to ask the same question of us as he asked of his disciples in today’s Gospel just days after his Resurrection?

I believe we sometimes don’t even realize we are troubled, we question, we doubt, we worry… Did the Apostles, after all, really get the depth of their confusion, insecurity, guilt, fear?

I believe that an inner suspicion gnaws at our heart today even as we recite the Credo… After all, we breathe the same air as the rest of humanity.

I believe there is this subtle desperation, so subtle we don’t even suspect it is there…


Even more than a year into the pandemic, we remain surrounded by questions, haunted by emptiness, suspicious about whether our life has real meaning. We have touched the small daily nothingness that often threatens to dominate our days. How much time people admit to scrolling through an endless social media feed without the willpower to stop until they are exhausted? We live in a time where nothing is very strong as we are half-aware of the “dreary flickering of the mind over it knows not what and knows not why,” as C. S. Lewis said in The Screwtape Letters.

We suffer the absence of something—of Someone—that fascinates us, captivates us, bowls us over, seizes us…. “We are all of us limp” (Leo Tolstoy, The Idiot).

And then there is the Risen One who appears in our midst. There is something that happens right in front of our eyes. Someone who creates something new again and again, in heart after heart that will gaze upon him. 

Jesus, in each encounter with another as recorded in the Gospels, asks only one question, “Will you love me?” 

He doesn’t ask, “Did you get it right?” “Have you really learned how to pray yet?” “Have you converted completely this time?” “Have you succeeded?”

No. Instead, “Look at me. Love me. I am your brother, your Savior, your Shepherd, the One who is risen and at your side.”

I realized this Lent that my heart has been torn apart with this existential nothingness for quite some time. Call it nihilism. Call it skepticism. I believed. I trusted. But how I suffered because something had been taken from me as I breathed in the scary information and the ideology that has passed for the news which has bombarded us for over a year. 

Then this Easter Vigil, Jesus said to me, “I am here, you can touch me, my hands my feet. I am real. My word is a promise. I guarantee it with my life. You can hold onto it and it will truly satisfy all your desire for affection, ultimate meaning, eternal desire and infinite happiness. It will not let you down. Breathe it in. Drink it. Read it not as inspiration. Read it as something that God has done and is doing and will do. They are not words. They are events that cannot be undone.” 

Jesus opened my mind to “understand the scriptures,” to understand that he is acting in his Word for me. Now I am a witness to these things. I believe in this man, Jesus, the Risen Son of God and Savior, the Lamb of God. He has all my heart. 

God so gently and only gradually is building up his story within my history and within world history. I trust him. No matter what happens to me, I shall live because he lives. I. Shall. Live.  

“Peace be with you,” Jesus whispers to you, proclaims to you.

“I have been here all along. I rose from the dead. I live, the Risen One. Why are you troubled about the events in your life? Why do you wonder if I am here? If I can do anything?”

Take your troubles to the Risen One. Doubt no longer, but believe.

Contact the author

Sr. Kathryn J. HermesKathryn James Hermes, FSP, is the author of the newly released title: Reclaim Regret: How God Heals Life’s Disappointments, by Pauline Books and Media. An author and spiritual mentor, she offers spiritual accompaniment for the contemporary Christian’s journey towards spiritual growth and inner healing. She is the director of My Sisters, where people can find spiritual accompaniment from the Daughters of St. Paul on their journey. Website: Public Facebook Group: For monthly spiritual journaling guides, weekly podcasts and over 50 conferences and retreat programs join my Patreon community:

Feature Image Credit: Robert Wilhelm Ekman, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

It Is I, Do Not Be Afraid

How do you suppose the apostles felt that night? I mean, think about it. Your  Rabbi and friend was just brutally killed. The Jews might come for you next because you knew him. You’re probably plagued with guilt because you ran away at Golgotha and probably plagued with doubt because you thought he was the Messiah but he still died.

Put yourself in their shoes. 

So, all inwardly jumbled with these thoughts and feelings, what do the disciples decide to do? 

Sail to the other shore. Get away from that place where their friend died, and where all of these angry people who might want to kill them too, are.

Again, put yourself in their shoes. They were terrified. They were probably sad, and full of regret and doubt. So they flee in the middle of the night. Sailing across the sea, wind begins to blow, and once again the poor apostles are terrified. 

But then, imagine this; the very friend they betrayed, the very friend whom they loved, the very friend who was killed, is walking on the water toward their boat. Imagine that.

Now how do you think the disciples felt? Fear? Surprise? Wonder? And then Jesus speaks; “It is I, do not be afraid.” Do not be afraid. After all of the fear, the fear of the stormy seas, the fear of the Jews, the fear that Jesus might not have been who he said he was, Jesus tells them do not be afraid; it is I. 

Do not be afraid.

Think about how reassuring those words must have been for the apostles. After all the chaos and craziness of the past few days, after all the fear and the doubt, Jesus gives them the words they need: It is I; I am alive, I am the Messiah; Do not be afraid;  I am with you, do not fear neither the Jews nor the storm. It is I. Do not be afraid. 

How applicable these words are to today! With the fears of the pandemic still running, how much people need the calming words of Jesus: It is I, do not be afraid.

Perpetua Phelps is a high school student residing in West Michigan and is the second of four children. Apart from homeschooling, Perpetua enjoys volunteering at her church, attending retreats, studying Latin and French, and reading classics such as BeowulfThe Lord of the Rings, C.S. Lewis’ Space Trilogy, and Mark Twain’s Joan of Arc. She also spends much time writing novels, essays, and poetry for fun and competition. A passionate Tolkien fan, Perpetua is a founding member of a Tolkien podcast.

Feature Image Credit: vytas_sdb,

I Can Overcome

One of my earliest memories is of watching the news on television. It was the late 1960’s, and we had only three TV channels in those days—this was in France—and they were filled with images from America, white police officers turning water hoses and dogs on Black protesters in city streets. I wasn’t old enough to understand what it meant, and I cannot remember if my family even discussed the events we were watching unfold; I do remember the violence of the images, though, and they haunted my sleep.

Later, probably much later, when I learned about the history of the civil rights movement, I wondered at the courage of those people who’d put themselves in harm’s way for the sake of what was right. I hadn’t quite grasped the concept of sacrifice—despite what the nuns were teaching me in school!—and it seemed either very brave or very foolish to go into a situation knowing the outcome would most probably be violent. I was at the same time learning the history of the early Church, and my dreams were twisted—scenes of Christians in the Coliseum mixed with Black kids being beaten. It was a bad time.

I know a great deal more now about both these situations, but what I’ve retained from my childhood is the wonder at people willing—and in many cases eager—to put their lives on the line. 

I was reminded of that when I read today’s passage from the Acts of the Apostles. Gamaliel was a teacher of Paul and was a leading exponent of a more liberal and humane interpretation of the Law, and he was the voice of reason in this council. As soon as the apostles left, he addressed the assembly, warning council members not to be too hasty in their judgements. He gave two examples of leaders—Theudas and Judas the Galilean—who’d started rebellious movements and, in both cases, attracted quite a large following of supporters.

Both of these leaders died and, when they did, their movements fell apart. Gamaliel draws a conclusion from that: the revolts weren’t meant to succeed. And if this “Jesus movement” was left alone, it too might fall apart—after all, its leader, too, was dead. Leave these people alone, he counseled; if the movement is just another human endeavor, it will destroy itself, you don’t have to help it on its way. On the other hand, if it comes from God—well, there’s nothing you could do to destroy it anyway. 

While Gamaliel was persuasive, the Sanhedrin still for good measure wanted to have the last word, and they had the Apostles whipped—forty lashes minus one, according to Jewish law. It was without doubt a horrible experience. Yet Peter and his companions left the council rejoicing “that they were considered worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name.”

They were experiencing the blessedness Jesus had spoken of in the Sermon on the Mount: “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

The message of the Gospel is clear. It is a message of love, of inclusion, of joy. It is also a message of sacrifice, of responsibility, and of suffering. Generations have been willing to be persecuted for righteousness’ sake: the Church calendar is filled with martyrs. As people continue to put their lives on the line for what they know to be right, I will continue to be both horrified and inspired—horrified by the cruelty of some, and inspired by the faith and fortitude of others. 

And while the civil-rights workers sang, “We shall overcome, the Lord will see us through,” I realize that in many smaller ways, I, too, can overcome. I can in my life’s situations stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves. I can in my life’s situations speak out against injustice, cruelty, and oppression. I can in my life’s situations live the Gospel as clearly and completely as possible.

I can learn from the past. I can overcome.

Contact the author

Jeannette de Beauvoir is a writer and editor with the digital department of Pauline Books & Media, working on projects as disparate as newsletters, book clubs, ebooks, and retreats that support the apostolate of the Daughters of St. Paul at

Feature Image Credit: Tama66,

Obedience to God

In today’s reading, Peter and the Apostles were brought before the Sanhedrin. The high priest admonished them, saying they were not to preach in Jesus’ name. Peter responded: “Obedience to God comes before obedience to men.”

Indeed. God is the one we must obey. His laws are the ones we must live by.

Though many manmade laws are based on the Commandments and morality, there are some unjust and downright evil laws that we cannot obey—namely laws allowing abortion and euthanasia. 

The Fifth Commandment tells us that we must not kill. That means that we must cherish and respect all life—from the very moment of creation until the end of life.

It may seem difficult, but we must do as the Apostles did and teach in Jesus’ name. 

Jesus spent years teaching His laws. He spent years preaching the Good News. He then sent His disciples out to preach in His name. For over 2,000 years, priests and lay people alike have done so. They did so because it was their responsibility. Likewise, it is our responsibility.

God loves us more than we will ever know. We must show our love for Him by following His commands. So let us think about how we can do that today and every day. 

As we pray and discern how we can amend our actions, let us seek the intercession of the saints. They followed God’s word and were obedient to Him. Let us model our lives after theirs. 

We need God’s holy name now more than ever. In a world filled with immorality, we cannot sit quietly. We cannot allow the passage of more unjust laws. 

And we cannot allow obedience to men to come before obedience to God.

Contact the author

Susan Ciancio has a BA in psychology and a BA in sociology from the University of Notre Dame, with an MA in liberal studies from Indiana University. For the past 17 years, she has worked as a professional editor and writer, editing both fiction and nonfiction books, magazine articles, blogs, educational lessons, professional materials and website content. Eleven of those years have been in the pro-life sector. Currently Susan freelances and writes weekly for HLI, edits for American Life League, and is the editor of Celebrate Life Magazine. She also serves as executive editor for the Culture of Life Studies Program-an educational nonprofit program for K-12 students.

Feature Image Credit: Stephanie LeBlanc,

Human or Spiritual?

I really enjoy Eastertime. It is really brought to life when we read the Acts of the Apostles every day! It also brings to life what they did and what we should be doing. A couple of verses before today’s readings in Acts people would bring their sick and lay them in the street hoping that at least Peter’s shadow would fall upon them and they would be healed (and they were). Folks, is that great or what? 

It is no wonder then that the Sadducees  became jealous of those involved and threw them in prison. We know that the Lord had a different plan for them. That day, an Angel let them out. They went to the temple and did exactly what they were told to do, preach the Good News. 

Have you or I ever failed to do what God has asked us to do? For me, I would have to say yes. There are two ways to solve a problem like this: humanly or spiritually. We are confronted every day with a myriad of problems, some big and some small. But we need to make decisions on every one of them. I am reminded of a time a few years ago. A coworker came into my office and was perplexed as to what color to paint his house. He and his wife had gone through many color chips and just couldn’t agree on a color. I asked him if he had prayed about it. “What?!” he said. “God doesn’t give a rip about what color my house is!” “Not true”, I said. “He does care. He cares about everything.” He replied with something like, “Whatever!” then threw his hands up in the air and walked out. I never did hear how that turned out. 

I entered the business world knowing nothing about the business world. It was very stressful to say the least. Little by little I learned that saying a short prayer before jumping in on something really made a difference. 

We have hundreds of thoughts going through our minds every day. We have plenty of opportunities to ask the Lord what would be most pleasing to him. Let us remember the apostles. The world told them to stop…and God told them to go! You may say, well, they had an Angel to help them! So do you. Your Guardian Angel. Put him to work! He will help you to do the right thing. 

Serving with joy! 

Contact the author

Deacon Dan Schneider is a retired general manager of industrial distributors. He and his wife Vicki recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. They are the parents of eight children and twenty-nine grandchildren. He has a degree in Family Life Education from Spring Arbor University. He was ordained a Permanent Deacon in 2002.  He has a passion for working with engaged and married couples and his main ministry has been preparing couples for marriage.

Featured Image Credit: Ralph, Skirr,

Change In Community

Imagine a parish where you walk in and are greeted at the door by a smiling face who welcomes you and directs you to a seat that is reserved just for you. Imagine that those around you aren’t interested in your political ideals or viewpoints on hot topic issues, but they are just grateful to meet you and welcome you into God’s house. Keep imagining, if you will, a place where everyone can freely worship God the way that fits their spirituality, without being mocked or scorned, but they can just be with Jesus in the way they most prefer. Imagine a place where the full truth is preached with conviction, despite what the consequences may be. Imagine someone who is willing to walk through the mess of your life and not judge you or condemn you, but also not leave you in the filth of your sin, but help guide you to the truth.

Sound like a place you have ever been? The reality is that what I just described should be what every Christian church looks like. The question is, do they? Let’s read through the First Reading today and really reflect on it in light of the questions I just asked.

“The community of believers was of one heart and mind, and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they had everything in common. With great power the Apostles bore witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great favor was accorded them all. There was no needy person among them, for those who owned property or houses would sell them, bring the proceeds of the sale, and put them at the feet of the Apostles, and they were distributed to each according to need. Thus Joseph, also named by the Apostles Barnabas (which is translated ‘son of encouragement’), a Levite, a Cypriot by birth, sold a piece of property that he owned, then brought the money and put it at the feet of the Apostles.” -Acts 4:32-37

So what can we say about this reading? As I read through it what stood out was how this is what Jesus wants us to look like as Christian communities. This is what he wants your church to look like. So the simple question is, what can we do to make it more like this? Are we giving of our time, talent, and treasure to help those around us? Are we trying to sow unity while also standing firm with the truth. Are we like Jesus who gave the fullness of mercy to the woman caught in adultery and then promptly said to sin no more? Let’s make a commitment today to be the change. Preaching the Gospel through our actions with the people God has given us. From all of us here at Rodzinka Ministry, God bless!

Contact the author

Tommy Shultz is the Founder/Director of Rodzinka Ministry and the Director of Faith Formation for the North Allegan Catholic Collaborative. In these roles, he is committed to bringing all those he meets into a deeper relationship with Christ. Tommy has a heart and flair for inspiring people to live their faith every day. He has worked in various youth ministry, adult ministry, and diocesan roles. He has been a featured speaker at retreats and events across the country. With a degree in Theology from Franciscan University, Tommy hopes to use his knowledge to help all people understand the beauty of The Faith. Contact Tommy at or check out his website at

Feature Image Credit: Cathopic,

Death to Life

“Every baptized person should consider that it is in the womb of the Church where he is transformed from a child of Adam to a child of God.”– St. Vincent Ferrer – 

In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells Nicodemus that “unless one is born from above, he cannot see the Kingdom of God” and, after Nicodemus expresses his confusion, Jesus continues by saying that “unless one is born of water and Spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God”.  Jesus is talking about the importance of Baptism. In order to enter the Kingdom of God, we must first die to ourselves and be reborn in the Holy Spirit. This rebirth is not solely our Baptism that only happens once, but it should be a continual renewal of our Baptismal promises. We ought to be rejecting Satan, and all his works, and his empty promises every day of our lives. We should be confessing our faith in God and His mercy – in word and action – every day of our lives. This is what we celebrate during the Easter season. The Risen Lord is always in our midst and our lives should be a reflection of His presence. 

Being born in the Spirit, being baptized in the Christian faith demands a life radically lived. Our faith does not call us to complacency, it does not call us to mediocrity. Rather, it calls us to participate in the radical love the Father has for us. We are made to be part of a love so great that the Father sent His only Son to die for us so that we may be united eternally with Him in His Heavenly Kingdom. It is for that reason that we are to continue to rejoice in the Easter miracle that is the Resurrection of our Savior, Christ Jesus. It is only through His Passion, Death, and Resurrection that we are able to be born again into His love. 

As we continue through this Easter season, may we commit ourselves to continual renewal in the Holy Spirit. May we be willing to die to ourselves in order to be reborn in the Father’s love for us.

Contact the author

Dakota currently lives in Denver, CO and teaches English Language Development and Spanish to high schoolers. She is married to the love of her life, Ralph. In her spare time, she reads, goes to breweries, and watches baseball. Dakota’s favorite saints are St. John Paul II (how could it not be?) and St. José Luis Sánchez del Río. She is passionate about her faith and considers herself blessed at any opportunity to share that faith with others. Check out more of her writing at

Feature Image Credit: Luis Ca,